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My Nordic music obsession

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Audio gears from Scandinavian countries are famed for their built and sound qualities, unfortunately they are also famed for their price tags. So they are not so approachable by most audio fans.

On the software side, the almighty Scandinavian music is of the same high quality, though much more wallet-friendly.

Few years back on an international flight, a Swedish student sit besides me. We had a bit chat on the school music programs in most Nordic countries, which has been funded by governments. And we joked about the boring winter life there especially in northern part of Norway, Sweden and Finland. Only two things would fight against the monotonies of polar nights - music and alcohol. Apparently the later has been applied with some sort of restrictions, so you only get music to be indulged in... Blah blah, you get the gist of it.

I've been obsessed with most genres of Nordic music in the past few years, hereby to share a short list which in my opinion are the highlights.

Nordic folk, roots & fusion pop:

Maria Kalaniemi - a master of free-bass button accordion, is one of Finland's leading contemporary and folk musicians.

Valravn - This is a fantastic Danish Folk / Electronica / Experimental band.

This band merges old Danish / Nordic medieval music with electronic music. Highly recommended!

Eivør Pálsdóttir - powerful young singer from Faroe Islands.

“Hedningarna is a Swedish band that brings ancient Nordic music into the modern era. Their world is a place where primitive, brutal folk music collides with sampling and programming.†(Discogs)

Garmarna - a Swedish folk rock band, which definitely deserves a wider attention. Their music just kept my toes tipping and tipping.

Ane Brun – Norwegian folk pop singer, probably too famous for me to jabber here.

Jenny Hval – talented Norwegian girl goes beyond audio and visual, so far only debut one album in the mighty Rune Grammofon, but man, amazing stuff.

Paavoharju – Finnish psychedelic folk band – their debut release Yhä Hämärää on Fonal is an all-time classic for me.

Jazz & Experimental:

Lars Danielsson - Swedish jazz bassist and cellist, his new album “Liberetto†is just too good to be true:

Jan Garbarek – do I need to say a word?

Supersilent – Norwegian experimental jazz trio. Supersilent are Trumpeter Arve Henriksen, tape experimenter Helge Sten (aka Deathprod), and Stale Storløkken on keyboards. One of the key figures in Rune Grammofon. Supersilent 7 is the most powerful improvisation jazz performance I’ve watched:

Nils Okland – OK, here is my personal favourite – Nils’ music is uniquely Nordic, while it has the power to touch anyone’s heart in a few melodies. I bought all Nils’ albums as I can found, and never be enough.

E.S.T (Esbjorn Svensson Trio) – anyone into Euro Jazz, this must be a household name already.

Food, In The Country, Alog, Phonophani, Shinning, blah blah – all the powerful bunch from the mighty Rune Grammofon!

Lasse Marhaug – the synonymous of Scandinavian Noise, who also collaborates often with other sonic terrorists Merzbow, Aube, Einsturzende Newbauten, etc.

I’d better not attach any video here for this guy.

My most favourable Nordic music labels:

Rune Grammofon – Norwegian jazz, folk and experimental label, now a sub-label of ECM.


Smalltown Superjazzz / Smalltown Supersound – Norwegian experimental jazz, and retro electronics/disco label. Some of their releases are explosively powerful.


Kning Disk – Swedish folk/experimental label. They uniquely combine their audio concept with visual album artworks. Most of their releases are below 1000 limited copies. Here are some of my KD collections:


Fonal – Finnish folk/experimental music label. Also famous for its album artwork design. Here are a bit of my Fonal collections:


Hapna – Swedish electronic/experimental music label.

Jazzaway – Norwegian Jazz/experimental Jazz label.

Cold Meat Industry – nah I’m just joking :nana

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OK, seems not able to refer YouTube videos in one go, piece by piece then:


Eivør Pálsdóttir

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Interesting post thanks Hugehair, I will give some of the clips you have posted a listen when I have more time.

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Same here, thank you for the effort of posting it all up. I'll look at the vids soon.

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A mixed bag off the top of my head, but I am sure there are plenty more artists

Anything by Kari Bremnes (Norway) (Pop-Adult Contemporary, Folk crossover)

In particular love her 2012 album Og så kom resten av livet "And then the rest of your life"

Kristin Asbjornsen (Raspy Vocals) (Swedish) - Factotum Soundtrack, The Night Shines Like Day, Bessie Smith revisited live in concert

Tord Gustavsen (ECM Jazz)

Helge Lien Trio (Norwegian Jazz) Hello Troll, Natsukashii

Ketil Bjornstad (Jazz)

Tingvall Trio, (Jazz Swedish member) - Norr


Edited by Demondes

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Edited by Demondes

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Thanks for adding, too much talents to give it a comprehensive list. I just quickly listed up a few personal favorites. But I should not left out Ketil Bjornstad, and Icelandic label Bedroom Community.

The other day, I was listening Lars Danielsson's Liberetto at CP_'s place, by auditioning Atohm GT1, I think we were both impressed. The silk smooth textured melody and fine hairs of drum brush were vividly and elegantly presented in a very soothing way. To my numb ears, I was in heaven.

CP_ asked about my fav Scandinavian labels, and that was the initiation of this post.

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Great Thread Hugehair.

You have given me a list of names/labels to check out.

I was thinking of starting a similar one for Japanese Music. Jazz etc (Not J-Pop)

Edited by Demondes

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I was thinking of starting a similar one for Japanese Music. Jazz etc (Not J-Pop)

very cool, looking forward to that mate!

My knowledge of JP music still remains on the old sonic terrorism and extreme noise stuff, such as Keiji Haino and Otomo Yoshihide. Also got a few post-rock albums from Toe and World's End Girlfriend. But that's about it.

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Great thread HH,

I have a few Scandinavian albums and have found that many are funded / supported by organisations such as Fond for Utovende Kunstnere, Norsk Kulturrad, Fond for Lyd og Bilde and Fund for Performing Arts Norway. They seem to be trying really hard to encourage their musicians.

Here's a few more that I have;

Thomas Stronens food 'Quiet Inlet' - ECM

Jazzbox, (Per Ebdrup) 'Jazz is the Grass I Cut' - Music for Dreams

Dan Berglund's 'Tonbruket', (ex EST) - ACT

Arve Henriksen, 'Cartography' - ECM

Nils Petter Molvaer, 'Khmer' - ECM

N.P.M. 'Remakes' - Universal Norway

N.P.M. 'An American Compilation' - Thirsty Ear

Jagga Jazzist, 'One armed Bandit' & 'What We Must' - Smalltown Supersound / Ninja Tune (Unfortunately neither that well recorded)

Edited by Grimmie

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